Albert “Halorin” Hailey III’s style of casting isn’t common at the professional level. He does not have the analytical mind of Dreadnaught, the seasoned critical eye of Khaldor, the past esports player knowledge of his co-caster Dunktrain or the long-time experience of fellow Heroes of the Dorm talent, Inverum.
Halorin will be the first to tell you his style is unique, conversational and relatable. Twitch viewers see themselves on stage when watching Halorin cast as his boyish excitement and unbridled enthusiasm allow the ability to connect with his personality while also being educated mid-game.
Last week, Halorin decided to sit down and talk with me about the collegiate esports scene, his therapeutic blog and how juggling careers have helped him learn more about himself.
"Casting is really one of the first times wherein an unabashed, almost reckless fashion I’ve just decided to be myself. "
With the Heroes of the Dorm tournament underway, what are your initial thoughts on the field?
I feel like this is going to be the most difficult year to predict who is going to win. There are a lot of evenly matched teams and even teams that are closer to the lower end of the spectrum, as far as seeding goes, have been really strong performers during the regular season. A 30 seed could be just as strong as a top 10 seed. I think we’re going to see a lot of fireworks right out of the gate.
Who do you have squaring off in your grand final matchup in your Heroes of the Dorm bracket challenge and why?
I have UCI and LSU making it to the finals but I’m really torn on who is actually going to win.
What separates those two teams apart in your mind that makes this decision as hard as it was?
UCI, in particular, has an amazing esports program and their performance across the board has shown that. They have an esports facility, the staff and everyone behind their esports program believed in the potential and its’ future and they invest in their players accordingly. I think those players appreciate that and it allows them to focus on the game.
They are a number one seed not only because they are really good players but also because I think the infrastructure that they have behind them.
LSU was the runner-up up last year and in every Heroes of the Dorm the runner-up would win the following year. I think they feel a lot of pressure to continue that trend and they have been strong performers during the regular season but UCI is looking pretty strong and they might break that trend.
With the Heroes of the Dorm tournament now in its fourth season, are you surprised at all to see the growth in popularity of the collegiate esports scene?
I’m not surprised but it’s not exactly what I expect just because I don’t have a long history being in esports. The idea that students at the college level playing a game at a competitive level feels like a very organic evolution. These are games that college kids would be playing one way or the other, so they go into a school that has a competitive spirit, maybe based around their basketball or football program, so there’s a history of pride around the teams. I’m not surprised to see that showing up in Heroes of the Storm because it’s a big part of the community there.
Transitioning into your own professional background, how did you stumble into the world of esports and casting?
You used the phrase “stumbling into” and I think that’s a very apt description all things considered. Heroes of the Storm is my first MOBA. I had never really played the genre before and I remember I started playing in the Summer of 2015 and I was watching the Blizzcon that year and I thought “Wow, I have never really seen anything like this before. A world stage spectacle over a video game? This is pretty cool.” The casters were so excited about it and it was making me hyped up to see who won.
I thought, maybe I could try doing something like that. I wanted to try to become a more expressive person. There was a community league starting up and I emailed the person who started it asking if they needed another caster and they asked what experience I had and I said none but I thought it’d be pretty fun. I started doing it then I did it one week and he asked me to do it another week and then other people started asking me to do it and I kind of just kept doing it and here I am.
What’s something that you think you’ve learned about yourself through casting that you don’t think you would have otherwise?
That it’s okay to be me. Casting is really one of the first times wherein an unabashed, almost reckless fashion I’ve just decided to be myself. I’m generally a pretty quiet and introverted person but with casting, I promised myself that I would just be me.
If people laughed at it and don’t think I’m good, I can live with that because it’s something that I just honestly tried for in a way that I have never done before. To put myself out on that high wire, so to speak, and have people actually embrace what I do is pretty heartwarming all things considered. So, I’m glad I did it.
“What I mean by that is, I’m just a person. Just someone that enjoys playing video games and talking about them, I’m no different from anyone else.”
I was reading your different blog posts about yourself and the intimate topics you decided to share with the general public on a public forum. Why did you decide to share what you did with the world opposed to keeping it to yourself or discuss it with a few friends?
It goes along with the main theme about why I got into casting. It’s very hard for me to talk about things of a personal nature so my blog is my attempt to break that trend. Interestingly enough, I feel I’m a better writer than a speaker, all things considered, so when there’s a moment in my life that I feel is inspirational or just a stand-out point for whatever reason I just write about it and post a link to it on my blog. I don’t really say anything about it so if people read it, cool, but I didn’t create that blog with the intent on developing any sort of following but it’s more of just like therapy in my own way.
You decided to share a story of a very personal relationship you had and the reception of the family to them finding out your ethnicity. It was a very eye-opening and heartfelt story that came from a deep place inside of you. Do you think that people can really understand the position you were in unless they are that ethnicity?
I think people are capable of understanding things like that regardless of whatever ethnicity they are. I feel like what it comes down to is that people don’t understand that that’s an element that factors into life.
When people get married it’s like, “I have this contentious relationship with my in-laws” and people write romantic comedies about this sort of thing but they don’t necessarily think that maybe part of the contention could be because of a physical trait that has nothing to do with your character or personality. It might be a little eye-opening like, “Wow, I never thought that would be a whole layer I’d even have to consider because it hasn’t been.” Maybe someone comes away reading that feeling like, “Oh wow, maybe there are other things that people have to consider just going through parts of life I never really thought that that would be a thing,” but it very much is to some people.
What do you try to do to try to break certain stigmas or be the change that you want to see within society?
I kind of struggled with that question when I got into casting, especially when I was writing that article. In a lot of ways, if I was to be any sort of change to a stigma, it would be by not trying to change anything.
What I mean by that is, I’m just a person. Just someone that enjoys playing video games and talking about them, I’m no different from anyone else. If there was one thing that I would want to convey is that I’m not my skin color, I’m just a person like anyone else. It doesn’t have to be a talking point or something that is a big deal. We’re all just people.
By being myself and continuing to commit to that idea, that would be a more powerful message sent by me than anything else.
What are you about outside of Heroes of the Storm? I know some people get so locked into their careers that they don’t do much else but what about yourself?
I’m an IT guy. I’m a System’s Engineer. I work for a government agency outside of Washington D.C. and casting is very much something I just started doing in my free time. Getting into web development I really like the logic and creativity that goes into programming so I’ve been working towards moving into that for a career. Casting just started out as this hobby and it’s become more and more of a thing.
I’m actually pretty lucky because my job has allowed me to work full-time remotely while I’m doing Heroes of the Dorm. There a lot of days, especially doing shoot days where I will work eight hours a day at my normal job, then do my full shoot day, then come back to my hotel and do my work. It’s cool to be in California as it’s a vacation of a sort but it’s kind of tasking as I’m doing two jobs.
You mentioned in your blog that you want Blizzard to give you more opportunities and you’re open to them yet you have this full-time career you love, where does Heroes fit into your life? Do you want it to be your full-time job or something on the side while you work on your own professional development?
I think if I had the opportunity to do this as my full-time job that it’s something I would absolutely embrace. All my other professional ambitions have been just things that I enjoy and come from a more personal place.
Doing IT stuff is something that I have always been kind of good at. I built my own computer when I was 13 and I have always just been a computer geek so it was just so natural to start doing things in IT. That is more of a job while casting is more of a passion. If I had the chance to do something that I love as a career that is personally fulfilling and just be myself then, yeah, that’s the dream. That opportunity would have to first arise. I don’t want to make any assumptions that that is something that is going to happen so I just have to try to continue to grow as a person.
What does the future hold for you that you expect to see yourself doing or want to see yourself doing over the next year or two?
I would like to continue to pursue casting. I think it has worked itself into my DNA at this point to where it would be very hard to walk away from it. Whatever opportunities that come along in doing that they’d be something I’d be interested in. My main goal these days is to make preparations to move to California. On a personal level, I’m happier here than I am in Virginia and I’ve been talking about moving here for a while and I’m finally thinking, “Just do it.” Once I get settled in there then I’ll start to think about long-term stuff.
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